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CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
February 7, 2014 | By Anthony York
Gov. Jerry Brown is taking steps to boost the state's unemployment insurance program, which has been paralyzed by backlogs and funding shortages that have kept thousands of Californians from receiving jobless benefits.   In a letter to Employment Development Department Director Sharon Hilliard, the head of Brown's labor agency cited “unacceptable levels of payment delays and unanswered phone calls” for those seeking unemployment benefits from the state. “It's clear that to improve service we must retain skilled staff and hire additional workers,” wrote Labor Secretary David Lanier.
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BUSINESS
February 7, 2014 | By Ricardo Lopez
Citing "unacceptable levels of of payment delays and unanswered calls," Gov. Jerry Brown's administration has ordered the Employment Development Department to hire additional staff, overhaul its phone system and add IT staff to fix problems with its unemployment insurance program.  In a letter to the EDD's chief deputy director Sharon Hilliard, Labor Secretary David Lanier said that despite the EDD's best efforts, technical problems with a...
OPINION
February 6, 2014 | By The Times editorial board
In the new world of the sharing economy, companies such as Uber, Lyft and Sidecar have made a compelling case that government shouldn't treat them the same way it treats conventional service providers. They're not taxi companies; instead, they empower people to act as part-time limo drivers. But regulators still have to make sure that the public is protected when something goes wrong. A recent fatal accident involving a driver who used Uber highlights gaps in the insurance coverage that ride-sharing services, their drivers and state regulators can't ignore.
BUSINESS
February 6, 2014 | By Marc Lifsher
SACRAMENTO - Ride-sharing company Lyft is improving its insurance coverage for drivers and passengers after state regulators complained that there could be holes in the coverage that Lyft and its competitors provide. Critics questioned whether the policy goes far enough to fully protect people involved in accidents. Lyft announced this week that it's giving drivers the option of getting collision insurance to repair damage to their cars. It's also offering protection against being hit by an uninsured or underinsured driver to its basic, $1-million commercial liability coverage.
BUSINESS
February 5, 2014 | By Marc Lifsher and Salvador Rodriguez
SACRAMENTO - A deadly accident involving a California ride-sharing driver has brought to light a potential downside to this new high-tech carpooling: Who pays when something goes wrong? Companies such as Uber, Lyft and Sidecar have long insisted that the insurance they provide their drivers is sufficient to cover accidents. But a recent tragedy shows the murky legal terrain in which these new taxi-like services operate. On New Year's Eve, an Uber driver struck and killed a 6-year-old girl who was crossing a San Francisco street with her family.
SPORTS
February 5, 2014 | By Steve Dilbeck
It's three days until pitchers and catchers report to spring training for the Dodgers, and do you know where their starting second baseman is? They're going in big time with Cuba's untested Alex Guerrero , a shortstop who's never played a lick of professional baseball. Of course, sign him to a four-year, $28-million deal, and maybe it should seem you're going all in. But if Guerrero fails either defensively or offensively, the truth is the Dodgers have no viable backup plan.
BUSINESS
February 2, 2014 | By Marc Lifsher
SACRAMENTO - Michael Picker, the newest member of the powerful Public Utilities Commission, has a long history with Gov. Jerry Brown: He worked in the governor's mail room during his first term from 1975 to 1977. "I delivered press releases," said Picker, 62, who moved to Sacramento from Echo Park a year after graduating from Immaculate Heart College in Los Angeles in 1974. Since then, Picker, has held a number of government jobs, most recently as an elected board member of the Sacramento Municipal Utility District and as senior adviser on renewable energy for Brown and his predecessor, Arnold Schwarzenegger.
OPINION
January 31, 2014 | By The Times editorial board
Ever since the housing market collapse, nothing stokes the flames of public outrage quite like the phrase "government bailout. " It's become the condemnation of choice for both parties when faced with a policy they don't like. Lately, conservatives have been arguing that an obscure provision of the 2010 healthcare law would provide a taxpayer bailout to insurance companies that don't charge high enough premiums. Funny, but they didn't have a problem with that concept when it was used to help launch Medicare's prescription drug program under (Republican)
BUSINESS
January 30, 2014 | By Chad Terhune
Thousands of Anthem Blue Cross individual customers with older insurance policies untouched by Obamacare are getting some jarring news: Their premiums are going up as much as 25%. These increases, 16% on average, are slated to go into effect April 1 for up to 306,000 people - unless California regulators persuade the state's largest for-profit health insurer to back down. Amid the fury last fall over canceled health policies, consumer advocates and state officials warned people that holding onto grandfathered policies purchased before the federal healthcare law was enacted in 2010 wouldn't shield them from significant rate hikes.
BUSINESS
January 30, 2014 | By Ricardo Lopez
A group seeking to reform the state's unemployment insurance system kicked off its campaign Thursday outside an Employment Development Department office in South Los Angeles. Backed by the Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment, the group was formed in response to a troubled computer upgrade at the EDD that delayed unemployment checks to 150,000 Californians. The computer glitch snared payments to the state's unemployed, leading to a November oversight hearing, and most recently, a request by a lawmaker for additional state funding and an audit to ease problems with the beleaguered state agency.
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